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A Postscript To The Conventions: Nonprofits Are Part Of The Solution

President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Governor Mitt Romney each addressed the nation’s major challenges in their recent convention speeches. With different perspectives and emphases, the candidates spoke to some or all of these issues: job creation and economic recovery, deficit reduction, education, healthcare, alternative energy development, and the elimination of poverty. In addition to the solutions offered by the candidates, the "third sector"—nonprofit organizations—can be a vital partner to the government and business sectors in achieving success.

Public-private partnerships advance national and global solutions.

Through partnerships between nonprofits, corporations, and government, here and throughout the world, tremendous advances are being made in addressing critical issues. For example, HP is achieving results in the U.S., and abroad as well, through its partnerships with more than sixty NGOs/nonprofits and governments. Another example is the nonprofit Services for the Underserved in New York City and its partnership with JWT New York, BlackRock, the Department for Veterans Affairs, and additional companies, nonprofits, and government agencies to provide housing, counseling, and jobs for U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here at home, the nonprofit sector is not an insignificant part of our economy. There are over 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S., with annual revenues over $1.5 trillion and assets over $2.7 trillion. The nonprofit sector accounts for 9.2% of all wages and salaries; its share of GDP was 5.5% in 2010. Nonprofits foster economic development, and provide education, healthcare, job training and placement programs, and services for youth and seniors. They combat poverty, shelter the homeless, serve people with mental disabilities, and build and maintain parks, museums, zoos, and recreation centers and programs in our communities.

Volunteers are a massive force in addressing national and global challenges.

Volunteers are a massive force in powering the nation’s nonprofit sector. More than 26% of Americans volunteer. Additionally, during the past decade, volunteering through corporations is emerging as a dynamic trend through which volumes of talented people engage in meaningful service here at home and throughout the world.

VolunteerMatch, Taproot Foundation, and Catchafire are outstanding matching organizations that help facilitate volunteering here in the US. CDC Development Solutions facilitates large-scale volunteer programs for major corporations on an international scale.

For more than two decades, my area of particular focus has been working with global corporations to train and place business executives and professionals on NGO/nonprofit boards of directors. Through effective service, business people are advancing organizations in achieving ambitious goals in strengthening our nation’s communities and building a better world.

Through the newly established NYU Global Board Leadership Academy, where I have been named director, we will offer training and development programs in cities worldwide for directors of for-profit boards, as well as women and men who aspire to serve on for-profit boards. We will also offer programs for NGO/nonprofit boards and people who are preparing to serve.

Clinton Global Initiative Eighth Annual Meeting convenes this month.

In two weeks, President Clinton will convene the eighth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). This is a hallmark event at which leaders of NGOs/nonprofits, corporations, foundations, philanthropists, and governments meet for three days to engage in and renew partnerships to solve global challenges. This will be my fifth year reporting on CGI for Fast Company, and it’s the most powerful deal-making event one can imagine.

As we discuss national and global challenges and solutions, let’s factor in the vital mission of NGOs/nonprofits and the role that you can play as a volunteer in helping to build a better world. Just join right in.

[Image: Flickr user clintonfoundation]